Southern Utah News Articles
Commission discusses weapon free zone and enforcement
Kane County Sheriff Lamont Smith and Deputy Tracy Glover discussed the issue of enforcement of a weapon free zone in the courthouse. Commissioner Doug Heaton said recent shootings happened in a weapon free zone, like schools and theaters.
Sheriff Smith said some places need restrictions on weapons; “Schools in Kane County are re-evaluating their protection plans. Training to use weapons is important and a better deterrent.”
Smith added that vehicles kill more people annually than guns. In the courtroom, the judge has the authority to regulate the courtroom. When court is in session, there is a safety zone. Guns are a huge responsibility.
When asked about gun safety training sessions for citizens, Sheriff Smith commented, “We don’t want to compete with the private sector. A lot is going on now in the country and county regarding gun control. We are here to help.”
The commission decided to explore their concern of enforcement in a work session. The county attorney will check with the judge regarding a gun free zone in the courthouse.
Rhonda Gant and Georgia Baca gave an update on the county benefits package. After the first year, the self-insured plan is doing well and is a great cost savings to the county. Commissioner Dirk Clayson said the county is now in a better position to control and predict medical costs.
The commission approved the Elbern Ranch Rural Unapproved Subdivision, located at East Zion near Mineral Springs, and the Legend Ledges Rural Unimproved Subdivision, located south of Mt. Carmel near the Barracks.
There was discussion on the Alton Road and the damage done by coal trucks. The road is not designed for that amount of weight. The concern is how to fix it when the ice melts. Road maintenance is scheduled for 2016, with a 97% grant and 3% match by the county. The county will try to get that date moved up. The grant is in jeopardy of redistribution of funds. The county has plenty of photos showing need and hope they will work. They will also discuss with Alton Coal what they are willing to do to help. The commissioners will meet on site for that discussion and work for a joint cost sharing.
Disposition of taxes for lot #3 Plot A in Glen Canyon was discussed. The property was sold by SITLA in 2004 to a private owner. However, the people defaulted and the property returned to SITLA. The user never paid the property taxes from 2005 to 2011. With interest, it amounts to $15,600. SITLA is a government agency and does not pay taxes. Clayson will talk to SITLA to see if a solution can be worked out. Meanwhile, the county will take action against the lessee. Clerk/Auditor Karla Johnson said it is not fair to the rest of property taxpayers to waive this tax.
The commissioners reported on meetings attended at the state legislature. Federal funds for states are up in the air. Utah is preparing a budget with and without federal funds, which are about 30% of a state budget. Utah is one of only seven states in the nation that has the capacity to stand alone.
The state is looking to relocate the current state prison and is looking at rural areas. Commissioner Doug Heaton said it is cheaper to house prisoners in county jails at 70% of what it costs to use the state prison. It is a win for the counties, a win for the state, and a win for the taxpayers.
There is concern about roads. Fuel taxes are fixed and fuel efficiency is much better. However, the cost to maintain roads is up considerably. Kane County is at the point where in a few years the county will have to fund roads from the general plan or reduce maintenance.
The state is saying property assessments on lands with endangered species can’t be assessed at full value. For example: sage grouse and prairie dogs.
William Swadley, Representative for Senator Hatch, Gary Webster, Representative for Congressman Chris Stewart, and Ellen Schunk, Representative for Senator Mike Lee, introduced themselves to the commissioners. The congressmen are against gun control, but for gun safety. The commissioners asked about the land issues with the new Secretary of the Department of the Interior.
Clayson told the representatives Kane County is tired of being on the federal welfare system. PILT funds are a federal obligation. “We need to utilize natural resources in Kane County and generate good jobs in the private sector, jobs that generate money. Kane County has a great opportunity to generate money, ex. forests and mining on the Arizona Strip.”
Heaton added, “We need to get the Federal Government to honor iis promises and referred to HB 148 in Utah State Legislature.”